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Beijing-Based Analyst Suggests How Canadian Convict May Escape Death in China

© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev / Go to the photo bankA dragon sculpture in Beijing
A dragon sculpture in Beijing - Sputnik International
The fate of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a 36-year old Canadian convicted of drug smuggling in China, is hanging in the balance. Speaking to Sputnik, Beijing-based CCTV editor Tom McGregor explains why the Canadian deserves no mercy in the eyes of the Chinese, and shed light on the People's Republic's tough drug laws.

China's decision to upgrade the punishment for Canadian national Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has nothing to do with the detention of Huawei's top financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada, says Tom McGregor, a Beijing-based political analyst, senior editor and commentator for China's national broadcaster CCTV, while suggesting that Schellenberg may escape death if Ottawa frees Meng.

"Not at all, just a case of coincidental timing", McGregor told Sputnik, refuting Western MSM claims that Beijing toughened its stance toward the Canadian in retaliation to the Huawei senior executive's arrest. "The Chinese are getting very angry that the Chinese court system showing too much leniency towards criminals. Here's a case of a man convicted of smuggling over 200 kg of amphetamines and he only has to serve 15 years in prison."

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The journalist drew attention to the fact that "a criminal in China could be executed for carrying as little as 50 g of illicit drugs in his possession".

However, two months ago, the same Chinese court had sentenced Schellenberg to 15 years in prison.

According to the CCTV editor, in the eyes of the Chinese, Schellenberg is "a criminal who was a major player in an international drug syndicate linked to drug gangs in Australia and he had utilised his 'white privilege' card to win a reduced sentence".

"And despite the overwhelming evidence arrayed against him, he still proclaimed his innocence and even issued a statement to the public saying he was never involved in the drug trade. Yet, he had also been arrested in Vancouver on related drug charges, so it seems that he still has not taken responsibility over his prior misdeeds," McGregor said.

A general view of the Intermediate People's Court of Dalian, where the trial for Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian citizen on drug smuggling charges, will be held, in Liaoning province, China January 14, 2019 - Sputnik International
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The journalist explained that given all these, a Chinese prosecutor "demanded and received a new trial to obtain the death sentence, which is permitted under the Chinese Constitution and laws of the land in the country".

Make no mistake, McGregor pointed out, "Schellenberg deserves the death penalty under the rule of law in China".

At the same time, the journalist suggested that the Canadian national, whom he dubbed "El Chapo of China", knew that if found guilty of his crimes, he could be penalised with the death sentence.

© REUTERS / Intermediate People's Court of DalianCanadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg appears in court for a retrial of his drug smuggling case in Dalian, Liaoning province, China, January 14, 2019, in this handout picture received by Reuters January 15, 2019
Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg appears in court for a retrial of his drug smuggling case in Dalian, Liaoning province, China, January 14, 2019, in this handout picture received by Reuters January 15, 2019 - Sputnik International
Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg appears in court for a retrial of his drug smuggling case in Dalian, Liaoning province, China, January 14, 2019, in this handout picture received by Reuters January 15, 2019

According to the Beijing-based political analyst, "many ordinary Chinese citizens hope that the country's government goes ahead and executes him". To add insult to injury, the Chinese are irritated by Canada's arrest of Meng in Vancouver on 1 December at the request of US law enforcement officials.

"Many Chinese are angry at [Justin] Trudeau, so they want the Canadian prime minister to suffer the political consequences of his schemes to have Huawei's Meng Wanzhou arrested," he noted, adding that from the Chinese standpoint the 36-year-old deserves no mercy.

Given all of the above, it is highly unlikely that Beijing will succumb to international pressure and change its mind with regard to the Canadian's fate, according to the analyst.

Still McGregor believes that "the only way Schellenberg can escape the death penalty is if Canada frees Meng and allows her to return to China with her Chinese passport in hand".

"Let's see what decision Trudeau makes in the next few days, but he better act fast; according to Chinese law Schellenberg could be executed in less than seven days from now," he stressed.

Why China's Drug Laws are So Tough

The political analyst admitted that the People's Republic's drug laws are really tough, adding that Beijing has good reason for that.

"The south-western part of China lies near what is known as the 'Golden Triangle' — Myanmar, Thailand and Afghanistan, where opium growers and dealers are running rampant," he pointed out.

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He also referred to "triads" — Asian secret mafia groups involved in drug and human trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, the production of counterfeit goods, and smuggling.

"China's drug laws are so tough, because the same laws are enforced in Singapore and have been very effective at transforming the city-state from being a hub for triads and international drug syndicates, and now Singapore has cleaned up and emerged as one of the cleanest and least corrupt sovereign governments in our world," the journalist elaborated.

McGregor noted that as a result, the crime rates are low in Singapore and "public safety and security are top notch there".

"Hence, China has witnessed that and hopes to achieve similar results", he said, adding that therefore "in 2014 and 2015, China's president had launched a nationwide crackdown on the scourge of drugs with massive sweeps of illicit drug dens".

The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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